Medicare

Medicare Inclusion

We encourage you to contact your two Senators and your Congressional Member in the House of Representatives, to express your support for the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.  Please use the bill numbers in all your communications.

FIND YOUR SENATOR


FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE


Virtual Advocacy Day!

The Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition organized a social media campaign to bolster Congressional support for inclusion of the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432) in the Reconciliation Legislation.

In May 2022, the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition will be organizing a social media campaign to bolster Congressional support for the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432), by engaging state- and local-level members to contact their U.S. Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen. 

State- and local-level members will be targeting their efforts from states toward the two Senators and member on the House of Representatives.  This collective and targeted grassroots pressure to Congressional offices will amplify our message and garner greater Congressional support for our legislation.

There are main talking points for advocates to share on social media, emails and in their phone calls.  The talking points are designed to be clear statements in order to allow each Coalition member/associates in your network to feel comfortable showing support for Senate Bill 828 or House Bill 432 during your social media posts, or emails and calls, to Congressional offices.

The primary theme of our messages for our April 21st initiative will focus on cost savings associated with the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/ H.R. 432).

There are common introductory messages that each advocate should highlight about the attributes of mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists that are included below and are in the Fact Sheet.

Proposed Common Messages:  

  • Several studies show that levels of anxiety and depressive disorders for older adults have doubled since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, but many lack access to providers and needed services.
  • Inclusion of Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists in the Medicare Program would increase the pool of eligible providers by over 200,000 practitioners so that Medicare beneficiaries would gain better access to care for their mental health conditions.
  • Mental health counselors and MFTs are licensed in all 50 states and well qualified to treat anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD and addiction disorders, and several behavioral health conditions.


    Proposed Common “Cost-Savings” Messages

    • The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432) will save money for the Medicare program.
    • Mental health counselors (MHCs) and marriage and family therapists (MFTs) can reduce in-patient costs through the provision of cost-effective services.
    • Older adults with mental illness have the highest Medicare costs – 2 to 3 times the cost of other beneficiaries. And untreated mental and substance use disorders among older adults exacerbate health conditions and increase overall Medicare health care costs.
    • The legislation under consideration proposes to pay mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists only 75 percent of the psychologist’s rate for mental health services, thereby saving money when the lower cost provider is accessed.
    • Congress can “bend the Medicare cost curve” through recognition of cost-efficient and effective providers by passing the Mental Health Access Improvement Act.
    • The Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R.432) would expand the availability of cost-effective providers under Medicare to help treat older adults and address the mental health crisis and the opioid epidemic.

      Fact Sheet
      Sample Email or Phone Call to Senators
      Sample Email or Phone Call for Senators and Representatives
      Scripts for Phone Calls

      #HASHTAG FOR THE CAMPAIGN

      In order to maximize the campaign’s visibility on social media, we propose using the hashtags #UpdateMedicare and #ICARE on all Facebook and Twitter posts.  We encourage all social media posts from state-level members to include #UpdateMedicare or #ICARE.

       

      TWEET AT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE OR SENATOR:

      @YourSenator or @YourRepresentative, I’m a constituent from [City] and we need to include mental health counselors and marriage & family therapists in the Medicare program to improve access to mental health care for older adults. #UpdateMedicare or #ICARE! 

       

      @YourSenator, I’m a constituent from [City] and there’s a shortage of Medicare mental health/addiction providers. Please sign on to S. 828 or HR 432. #UpdateMedicare or #ICARE.

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      FACEBOOK POSTS AT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE OR SENATOR:

      Sample 1:

      @SenatorX or @RepresentativeX, I am a constituent from [City] and a mental health counselor (or marriage and family therapist). There’s a shortage of mental health and substance abuse providers in the Medicare system, despite a significant increase in mental health and addiction disorders amongst older adults due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Please sign-on to the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828 or HR 432) to increase beneficiary access to cost-effective mental health counselors and MFTs and save Medicare money. #UpdateMedicare or #ICARE. 

       

      Sample 2:

      @SenatorX or @RepresentativeX, I am from [City] and your constituent. Recent studies and surveys show that the incidence of substance use and mental health disorder has increased substantially in elderly populations. We need licensed mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists available to address this issue in a cost-effective manner and save money for Medicare. I ask you to support the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828 or HR 432) because #UpdateMedicare or #ICARE.


      May 2022 is National Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM)

      The media offers a rich variety of resources to publicize mental health awareness. The idea is that individual associations and organizations of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition -- as part of their MHAM activities -- could include or focus on older adult mental issues as part of an effort called “Addressing the Older Adult Mental Health Crisis.”

      Below are some suggested activities and methods to promote National MHAM through local media outlets that can potentially engage your individual state and local members and audiences as well as those individuals can engage -- through direct discussions -- their Members in Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives when those policymakers are back home in their districts (please see attached documents to help engage federal policymakers in your locales).

      Proposed Media Guest Interviews and Spots

      Media attention is vital to the success of your Mental Health Awareness Month activities. Interviews are recommended to give dimension to the activities and better educate public and policymakers. The following suggestions may help. With each of these, be sure to mention Mental Health Awareness Month and any local events that your state chapters and individual members have planned.

      Script for Op-Ed Placement

      Medicare Op-Ed

      Medicare Recognition Op-Ed


      Newspapers

      • Submit an op-ed on about older adult mental health issues and the need for Congress to pass the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (see sample op-eds.
      • Give an interview about what marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors can do to increase access to mental health care for aging Americans.
      • Give an interview about National Mental Awareness Month; describe what it is and why your state affiliate or chapter is participating.

       

      Radio

      During every interview, be sure to mention Mental Health Awareness Month and the need to address the crisis that older adults with mental health conditions are enduring and lack of access to providers.

      • Give the radio stations in your area a list of Mental Health Awareness Month activities.
      • Give an interview about what marriage and family therapists and mental health counselors do for people and the training that is involved in becoming one.
      • Give an interview about National Mental Health Awareness Month; describe what it is and why your chapter is participating.

       

      Television

      During every interview, be sure to mention Mental Health Awareness Month and any local events that your state chapter has planned.

      • Any of the above ideas will work with television. Many stations have self-produced “magazine” shows that lend themselves to an interview with a counselor or therapist or, if appropriate, a client. Make sure releases are signed if clients are interviewed.
      • Public Television often has a panel discussion on current topics. Depending on the approach, Mental Health Awareness Month could be that topic. The emphasis would be on that we have mental health crisis for older adults in accessing services and providers and legislation in Congress – the Mental Health Access Improvement Act – would address gaps in care by including counselors and marriage and family therapists in the Medicare program. You should monitor the local PBS stations to see what is available, then brainstorm and submit a proposal to the station that fits their format.
      • Local cable television stations often have spots for public service announcements. These spots are often informal and offer a good venue to discuss mental health issue as well as publicize Mental Health Awareness Month.

       

      Snapshot of the Crisis in Older Adult Mental Health

      The aging of population will have a major impact on the financing and delivery of health care, mental health, and social services over the coming decades. 

      • An Aging America: 65+ almost double from 40.3 million in 2010 to 72.1 in 2030 
      • One-in-Four Older Adults Suffer from a Mental Illness or Substance Abuse  Condition – nearly 25% of older adults 
      • Older Adults Have Among the Highest Rates of Suicide: Older white males have the highest suicide rate of any age group 
      • Older Adults with Mental Illness have the Highest Medicare Costs: 2-3 times the cost of other Medicare beneficiaries 
      • Increasing Prevalence of Substance Use: Aging of the baby-boom population and illicit drug use and increased prevalence of opioid use by older adults with chronic pain 
      • Mental Illness in Older Adults is a Health Care Problem: It increases poor outcomes and mortality for common conditions such as heart disease, cancer, hip fractures, and diabetes 
      • A Silent Health Disparity: Serious mental illness has a 11-30 year reduced life expectancy largely due to increased co-morbid conditions like heart disease – “55 is the new 75” 
      • A Disparity that will be Compounded by Increasing Ethnic Diversity: From 2010-2030, older adult Hispanics will increase by 200% and African Americans by 115% --Minority older adults less likely to use or receive mental health services 
      • All of these Problems have been Exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic 
      • But Few Receive Appropriate Treatment: From 4% to 28% of older adults with mental health and substance use disorders receive mental health services  
      • Despite Numerous Treatments and Services Proven to be Effective by Research! 

      Inclusion of Mental Health Counselors (MHCs) and Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) in the Medicare Program would increase the pool of eligible providers by over 200,000 practitioners so that Medicare beneficiaries would gain better access to care for their mental health conditions. 

      • Mental health counselors and MFTs are licensed in all 50 states and well qualified to treat anxiety, depression, trauma, PTSD and addiction disorders and several behavioral health conditions.   
      • Many federal programs already recognize MHCs and MFTs such as the VA, DoD, TRICARE, and the Medicaid program, as well as major private health plans and health insurers.  
      • Congress should pass the Mental Health Access Improvement Act (S. 828/H.R. 432) so aging Americans have access to mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists.  

      Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition Webinar

      On February 24, 2022, members of the Medicare Mental Health Workforce Coalition came together to share important updates on the state of Mental Health Access Improvement Act, as well as sharing how to urge congress to pass this important legislation.


      Help Us Advocate for You

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      Click on the images below to download them and use them in your social media outreach.









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